What can a poor boy do except to go see a rock & roll band?

From the Stones to Lana Del Rey – a guide to the plethora of international musical artists headed to Israel this summer, and which shows you should spend your money on.

The Rolling Stones perform on stage (photo credit: Reuters)
The Rolling Stones perform on stage
(photo credit: Reuters)
The next two months will see an unprecedented invasion of international musical attractions on Israeli shores. And it’s not just relics trudging out 40-year-old hits who are including Tel Aviv on their world tour circuit.
Superstars from this century as well as some premier under-the-radar indie acts have decided that Israel is a viable and vital destination.
“There’s no question that statistically there are more concerts by foreign artists this summer than any other year – and not just any shows but good shows,” said Hillel Wachs of 2b Vibes, the production and promotion company bringing US soft-rock group America to the Ra’anana Amphipark on August 7.
He attributed the upswing to a number of factors including the changing complexion of the music industry.
“Within the general global recession, one of the few places there is still money for artists is in the live sector. However, if artists are now unable to command what they used to in Western Europe, they are willing to explore new areas like eastern Europe and Israel, the developing music markets,” said Wachs.
“Booking agents who two or three years ago might not have given us the time of day are now saying, ‘let’s talk dates.’” Regarding the BDS campaigns, Wachs said that their influence has been negligible, but the issue is brought up with every booking agent before the contracts are drawn up.
“We tell them that their artist has to know that they’re going to be bombarded by a small, but well-oiled and vocal group of guerrilla Internet activists who are going to threaten their career and call on them to not play ‘apartheid Israel.’ So with that knowledge, they’re prepared for it and it tends to not have much of an effect on them,” said Wachs.
“At the end of the day, artists will come here when it makes sense financially for them.
We’re not a better or worse market than anywhere else, but we are farther away, so it also has to make sense logistically. Most artists are not interested in politics but in connecting with their fans, making them happy and getting paid for it.”
That’s why there should be a lot of joy in the air and a lot of money changing hands in this summer of commerce and music. While almost all the buzz has gone toward the long-awaited maiden Israel show by The Rolling Stones on June 4 at Hayarkon Park, the “greatest rock & roll band” is just the tip of the iceberg for local music lovers. Following is a concise guide to the summer’s main attractions, and whether it’s advisable to part with your money to see them.
You may need a bank loan to finance the entrance fees to some of the shows, but as The Stones continue to sing, “I know it’s only rock & roll, but I like it.”
WHO: Justin Timberlake WHEN: May 28
WHERE: Hayarkon Park, Tel Aviv
PRICE: NIS 370-1450
1-10 scale: 8 The dynamic multi-faceted singer/actor/ performer puts on a frothy showbiz performance with world class production. The closest we’ll get to a Madonna-like spectacle this year.
WHO: The Prodigy
WHEN: May 29
WHERE: Tel Aviv Trade Grounds Center
PRICE: Tickets NIS 324-454
1-10 scale : 7 1990s British electronic music pioneers still make a glorious noise, if you can stand the volume.
WHO: The Rolling Stones
WHEN: June 4
WHERE: Park Hayarkon, Tel Aviv
PRICE: Tickets NIS 700-2,800
1-10 scale: 10 If elderly bluesmen are revered for still playing into their senior years, why can’t a geriatric white rock & roll band, especially one that’s still playing at peak power? The biggest feather in Israel’s cap since Paul McCartney.
WHO: Passenger
WHEN: June 10
WHERE: Barbie Club, Tel Aviv
1-10 scale: 8 The British folk-pop guitarist whose song “Let Her Go” has become a huge worldwide hit with over 200 million You- Tube views, is actually a star right now, not yesterday. And his real name is Michael David Rosenberg, so you gotta root for him.
WHO: Pixies/The Hives – Rocknroller Festival WHEN: June 17
WHERE: Bloomfield Stadium, Jaffa
PRICE: NIS 300-855
1-10 scale: 8 1990s American alternative favorites the Pixies make amends for their cancellation a few years ago. Despite Kim Deal’s absence, Frank Black and company still deliver the goods. Swedish garage rock revivalists The Hives only sweeten the pot.
WHO: Soundgarden/Gogol Bordello – Rocknroller Festival
WHEN: June 18
WHERE: Bloomfield Stadium, Jaffa
PRICE: NIS 300-855
1-10 scale: 7 The second day of the Rocknroller Festival offers another strong lineup with grunge veterans Soundgarden on the comeback trail, paired with the gypsy-punk mayhem of Gogol Bordello. Those that prefer a more intimate setting can catch the manic New York party animals on June 19 at the Barbie Club (NIS 150-180).
WHO: M. Ward
WHEN: June 25
WHERE: Gesher Theater, Jaffa
1-10 scale: 10 Besides the Stones, the other “must see” of the summer. This understated American singer/songwriter is original and compelling, whether or not he’s performing with his sometime musical partner Zooey Deschanel. A staggering guitarist and storyteller – Americana personified.
WHO: Gong
WHEN: July 3
WHERE: Reading 3, Tel Aviv
1-10 scale: 6 The 1960-era Franco-British space rockers provide an evening’s floating escape. They were a cult act back then, and probably more so today with their Floydian jams.
WHO: Brian Jonestown Massacre
WHEN: July 15
WHERE: Barbie Club, Tel Aviv
PRICE: NIS 160-190
1-10 scale: 7.5 The veteran psychedelic cult rockers led by eccentric front man Anton Newcombe impressed on their first visit to Israel in 2012, and this time should be no different.
WHO: Neil Young and Crazy Horse
WHEN: July 17
WHERE: Park Hayarkon, Tel Aviv
1-10 scale: 9.5 If the Stones weren’t playing a month before, this show would be all that Israeli music fans would be talking about. Two legends – Young and Crazy Horse – for the reasonable price of one. Warning: If you go only for his “Heart of Gold” mellowness, beware of endless guitar solos.
WHO: Backstreet Boys
WHEN: July 29-30
WHERE: Ra’anana Amphipark
1-10 scale: 6 These shows will undoubtedly be entertaining and highly professional in the Vegas vein, but isn’t the appeal of a boy band supposed to be that they’re boys? It might be a car-crash moment seeing middle-aged housewives in the crowed strutting retro MTV dance moves, but that hasn’t prevented 16,000 Israelis from buying tickets.
WHO: Kansas
WHEN: August 5
WHERE: Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv
PRICE: NIS 279-449
1-10 scale: 6 The 1970s prog-rock veterans from the US heartland had their moments, “Carry on Wayward Son” being prime example. But the scene of all those lit cell phones waving in unison to “Dust in the Wind” just might be a little too precious to bear.
WHO: America
WHEN: August 7
WHERE: Ra’anana Amphipark
PRICE: NIS 190-280
1-10 scale: 8 Could be the crowd pleaser of the summer.Those harmonies, those lush acoustic guitars... admit that you nostalgically hum their songs and that “Sister Golden Hair” is pop perfection.
WHO: Kurt Vile and the Violators
WHEN: August 12
WHERE: Barbie Club, Tel Aviv
1-10 scale: 8 Americana indie rocker channels the scruffy side of Springsteen, Petty and Young into a modern version of low-fi authenticity. Heartfelt from the heartland.
WHO: Lana Del Rey
WHEN: August 20
WHERE: Tel Aviv Trade Grounds Center
PRICE: NIS 400-1,000
1-10 scale: 9 The only artist coming to Israel who also performed at the Coachella Festival this year, Del Rey burst to stardom through the Internet in 2011, but has showed staying power with her quirky style. The next best thing to a performance by Lorde.
WHO: Israeli rock & roll
WHEN: Every night
WHERE: Everyplace
PRICE: Less expensive
1-10 scale: 10 We may get blinded by the dazzle of the megastars from abroad, but on any night at any number of venues throughout the country, some of the most innovative, freshest and accessible music is being made by homegrown talent. When you want to discover the next big thing, you don’t have to look far beyond the club down the street.
Victoria Kezra contributed to this report